Even the most dedicated Shakespeare fan may find the plot of a midsummer night dream confusing; it’s meant to be. Though the situation is certainly complicated from the beginning, the plays dramatic device, the fairies, do excellent jobs in creating even more confusion between the four lovers, as they expertly influence their thoughts and feelings in a far-fetched way. Though it’s mainly accidental, the fairies do everything in their power to support the quote ‘the course of true love never did run smooth’.
Shakespeare manages to influence the audiences’ feelings towards the characters varying who we feel sorry for and the entertainment we are given. Moreover, the audience is let in on the secret of why the lovers’ feelings change towards each other. This makes it very humorous and interesting for us to watch. An example of this happening in the 21st century would be, Eastenders. We are let in on the secret that Jayne has secret feelings for Grant when she is with Ian. As a result of Pucks mistake, poor Hermia is abandoned by Lysander, who has had a ‘surfeit’ of her and she is left alone with fear.
Her language now really succeeds in helping us feel sorry for her. For a moment, she uses some disturbing images of snakes ( many peoples worst fear) crawling all over her, complaining ” methought a serpent eat my heart away”. This proves her distress at the loss of her other half, Lysander. To show that we are involved in the secret twists of the plot, Hermia awakes and speaks of her confusion to Lysanders whereabouts. “Speak, of all love! / I swoon almost with fear” This quote shows how frightened she is and how she can not understand why he has left her.
However, the audience is let in on the secret here, because we know exactly where Lysander is and we also know why. Furthermore, when Puck says ” This is he, my master said ” it shows us that he is oblivious to the fact that there might possibly be another man in the woods, whereas the audience know that it is the wrong man and we begin to worry about the consequences of his mistake. Puck believes he has found the right man but he is unaware of the truth, which makes it humorous for the audience. Shakespeare succeeds in having an effect on the audience when it comes to our thoughts and feelings towards all the characters.
For instance, when Hermia says “And hast thou killed him sleeping? ” shows how she works herself up into frenzy over Lysander, and it makes the audience feel sympathetic towards her because it must be horrible believing your lover is dead. Moreover, in Act 2 Scene 2 we (the audience) also feel sorry for Helena because she believes that Lysander is making a fool out of her. When she says “but you must flout my insuffiency” shows how confused she really is about the whole situation. This also backs up my point about the audience being let in on the secret, as we know what has really happened to Lysander.
As with any other romantic comedy, A Midsummer Night Dream has a happy ending! This happens at the end of act 3 scene 2. The fairies realise that they need to put everything right again, and Puck is once again sent to put the love juice on the lovers eyes. However this time he makes sure he gets the right couples! Just like at the beginning of the play, Lysander and Hermia are together, and as happy as ever. The slight change would be that Helena is no longer the ‘underdog’ as Demetrius now loves her back. To sum up, the use of dramatic devices (i. e. the fairies) makes the plot of a midsummer night dream more interesting and complex.
It incredibly shows how ‘the course of true love never did run smooth’, yet it also proves that there can be a happy ending, no matter how much trouble it is to get there. Also shown throughout the pay is the major conflict between age and youth. In this case it’s Hermia and her father, Egeus. The conflict between begins in Act 1 Scene 1 because Egeus argues that Hermia should marry Demetrius. But, being the strong willed women she is, Hermia stands her ground and tells her father that she will not marry him, and that she would rather spend her life in a convent.
This infuriates Egeus so much that he has to go to Theseus, who is the ruler at the time, about his child to see if he can talk some sense into Hermia. When they are there he speaks very highly of Demetrius but very lowly of Lysander. For example, “This man hath bewitched the bossom of my child” shows how he believes Lysander is somehow controlling Hermia and changing her state of mind. In addition, he says that “Demetrius is a worthy gentleman” which shows his different feelings towards the 2 men. But, in essence of this, Hermia argues that Lysander is just as worthy gentlemen when she says “So is Lysander”.
She does not see how her father can think that Lysander is ‘lower’ than Demetrius, and that upsets her. The conflict between age and youth is one that has been going on for centuries, and will most likely carry on in the future. An example of the conflict in the present day would be if a child was in a relationship and they wanted their parents’ approval. If they do not get it, it would be likely that there would be an argument; however, it wouldn’t be as extreme as the one in A Midsummer Night Dream. Death would not even come into it! In this case, Egeus obviously represents age and Hermia youth.
Egeus represents age because he has authority and he is in control. He makes sure he is the one who decides what his daughter does or who she loves, and when she refuses to do things his way, he punishes her for it. Hermia, on the other hand, represents youth because she is young, open-minded and strong willed. She tries to have a say in what she does but as it stands I the start of the pay, it is not working out for her! The theme of age verses youth was very common in Shakespeare’s’ time. For example, the play ‘Romeo and Juilette’, which was also written by Shakespeare, also follows the theme of age against youth.
In this play age is represented by Capulet and youth is represented by his daughter Juilette. Like A Midsummer Night Dream, Capulet disagrees with Juilettes’ chosen partner as he is from a rival family. When he says “Unworthy as she is, that we have wrought so worthy gentlemen to be her bride? ” shows how he feels Juilette does not appreciate all the good things her elders have done for her. Typical? Another text that features the theme of age verses youth is ‘The Shepards Calendar’, written by Edmund Spenser. In this play age is represented by Thenot and youth by Cuddie.
As you may be able to tell, Thenot is a bitter old man with no sense of humour, where as Cuddie is an upbeat, friendly boy. This is shown when Thenot says “Lewdly complainest thou lassie ladde” because he is saying how youth is always complaining. Which is ironic as it is him complaining! Furthermore, in ‘Crabbed Age and Youth’ which is written by Shakespeare himself, it says “Crabbed age and youth cannot live together” which states how age and youth are just too different to be able to mix because they just don’t understand each other. The situation between Hermia and her father is finally resolved in Act 4 Scene 1.
This is down to Egeus and Theseus stumbling across the four lovers asleep. Luckily it is after the love juice has been put on the right peoples eyes! At first, Egeus’ reaction is to have them all punished for going against the Athenian law. However, Theseus overrules him because he is just happy that it has all been sorted out and the four lovers are all happy. Also, he now feels that he has power over Egeus, even though he did in the first place! Theseus’ decision was most likely influenced by the fact that he is happily in love and just about to get married.
Both modern and Shakespearean audiences would be happy with the outcome because everyone is happy and it is a nice way to end the play. The use of age and youth in A Midsummer Night Dream is yet another way of showing that the course of true love never did run smooth, but luckily, it all works out in the end. It is not long after Pucks mistake that changes start to happen. For instance, at the start of the play, Lysander is madly in love with Hermia. He uses exaggerated, romantic language that shows how he feels about her.
By using metaphors such as “liquid pearl, the bladed grass” Shakespeare reveals Lysanders sensitive side. Lysanders language is very poetic in this scene, and when he is explaining to Hermia about their plans to elope, he uses phrases such as “her silver visage in the watery gloss. ” This proves the idea that Lysander is in love with the idea of being in love. However, later on in the play, after Pucks mistake, Lysanders feelings start to change. He now is in love with Helena and not Hermia. He says that Hermia makes him feel sick, just like when you eat too many sweets.
For as a surfeit of the sweetest things, the sweetest loathing to the stomach brings. ” No longer does he use the exaggerated, romantic poetic language that the audience loved. Instead, it has changed to insults and vicious remarks. “Get you gone you dwarf, you minimus of hindering knot grass made, you bead, you acorn. ” Here he is insulting Hermia about her size because she is petite where as Helena is tall. The audience is amused with Lysanders reasoning as we know the truth and we wonder what further complication will arise. Hermia, Lysanders ‘other half’, is also well described from the beginning to the end.
For example, at the start of the play, Hermia is very adamant that she does not want to marry Demetrius. This shows that she is strong willed and quite courageous. Like Lysander, at the start of the play, Hermia uses exaggerated, poetic language. However, this can make her seem overly dramatic. By referring to symbols of love, Hermia shows how she really in love with Lysander. For example, “I swear to thee by Cupids strongest bow” is referring to the face of love, Cupid. On the other hand, using all these references can make her love seem quite false.
It’s almost as if she is trying to prove herself. Shakespeare uses imagery to reveal Hermias’ feelings. An example of this would be the reference to Venus Goddess of love. She describes Venus’ doves as a symbol of love and she is describing how her love for Lysander is similar to them. However on, later in the play, things have changed a lot. Hermia has been completely stranded in the woods by her lover, Lysander. Little does she know, he has been put under now a spell and is following Helena around, claiming to be in love with her. Hermia’s language has changed also changed a lot.
Before, she was very sure of what she wanted, she was strong willed and was not worried about saying what she felt, and her language proved this. Now, her language is much more suttle and is not as opinionated. She is very confused as to what has happened, so her language becomes very disjointed. Suddenly she is not the strong character we previously knew. Instead, she is weak, confused, and when she hears the news about Lysander, she is heart broken. This is proved when she says “Methought a serpent eating my heart away, and you sat smiling at his cruel pray.
Again, Shakespeare uses imagery to reveal Hermias feelings, but this time, instead of using a dove, he uses a snake to symbolize their love. Hardly something you could associate love with!! Furthermore, another of the four lovers, Helena is revealed through her words and language. At the start of the play, we meet the Helena that is jealous and envious of her best friend. It is almost as if she idolizes Hermia. For instance, when she says ” O teach me how you look, and with what are, you sway the motion of Demetrius’ heart” she is comparing her self to Hermia, and she wants to copy Hermia so she could maybe stand a chance with Demetrius.
At this point in the play, Helena has low confidence in her self and low self esteem. Also, her unappreciated love for Demetrius leaves her feeling invaluable and unworthy. Further into the play, Helena’s’ character really starts to change. Instead of being the jealous calm girl we first came across, she is an angry girl that can stand her ground. She finds the courage inside herself to finally stand up to Hermia, and show everyone what she is really made of. “Injurious Hermia, most ungrateful maid” She is now insulting Hermia rather than trying to copy her.
She now sees that she is just as good as Hermia, and from line 203 she uses repetition to build up an image of how alike they are. Moreover, at the start of the play she used longer sentences and words, but now, her language is very blunt. For instance, she says “She is keen and shrewd. ” It’s as if she has been holding in all her anger for ages, and now because she believes the other 3 are playing a cruel joke on her, she can not control her anger any longer, and it all bursts out. In the final scene, the complications and confusion are all resolved.
The fairies, the original dramatic device, apply the love juice to Lysanders eyes once again, however this time, they make sure he falls in love with Hermia, not Helena. When they all awake, Demetrius is still under the fairies spell, so he still loves Helena and luckily Hermia is the first girl Lysander sees, so they are also in love once again. Little do the four lovers know, that Hermia’s father Egeus and Theseus are also out in the woods. When the duo finally stumble across the four lovers, things don’t go as bad as you would imagine.
At first, Egeus is angry that his daughter has disobeyed him, but with the help of Theseus, he finally sees that his daughter is happy, so he lets her stay with Lysander. Theseus demands that all four lovers are to be married that day along with him. So, therefore everyone ends up happily married to the people they truly love. Shakespeare uses the fairies, as a dramatic device, and the conflict of age verses youth, to prove the hypothesis that ‘the course of true love never did run smooth’.
All of these methods show that the course of true love is not as straight forward as we would like to imagine. And that infact, no matter how much you try to avoid them, there will always be complications in love. In my opinion, Shakespeare uses the complications to entertain us, not confuse us, as we know the reasoning behind the confusion, so we’re let in on the secret. Therefore, we are able to sit back and enjoy the numerous twists and turns that make A Midsummer Nights Dream such a joy to watch.